Twitter Puts Visual Hashtags on a Sweeping Series of Issue-Themed Outdoor Ads for the Election

Creative chief Jayanta Jenkins tells us about the work

Headshot of Tim Nudd

A week out from Election Day, Twitter is launching a big out-of-home ad campaign that uses visual hashtags—i.e., the hashtag symbol paired with images—to position the site as the place where conversations are happening about the real issues at stake on Nov. 8.

The first ad in the series actually launched a few weeks back near the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey, targeting commuters driving into New York City. That ad showed hashtags along with Big Brother-like shots of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's eyes, along with the Twitter logo.

Now, almost two dozen more ads are rolling out. But in stark contrast to the first ad, the new ones show photos relating to the issues in the election, not just the people running for president. Those issues range from the Black Lives Matter movement to the Syrian crisis to guns, marijuana, the environment, gay rights, gender issues and more.

See a few of the executions here (and many more below):

Adweek spoke to Jayanta Jenkins, Twitter's new (and first-ever) global group creative director, on Monday about the campaign. He said the minimalist approach, including the visual hashtag, is meant to "humanize and give depth to the conversations" happening on Twitter.

"The less you say, the more you convey," he said. "We started with the candidates. It was a really nice way to kick off this work, which is now about the issues. If you think about the news cycle that's been happening around the election, it's all been about the personalities. It's been Clinton this, or Trump that. A little bit of what's been taken from us is just the conversation around the issues that we're actually voting for."

This election is a key moment for Twitter in its attempts to position itself as the world's premiere live news service—and a preferred destination for commentary about that news. After all, the Clinton-Trump battle has been perhaps unmatched in political history in terms of generating big news and conversation around both the candidates and the issues.

"It's a huge cycle for us," Jenkins said.

Out-of-home, he added, was the perfect medium to engage with people this way.

"Just think of all the brands that have used out-of-home in a really powerful way at big moments for those brands," Jenkins said. "Think about Apple when they did the 'Think Different' work. I think the out-of-home medium is a really beautiful and powerful way to humanize tech brands. Out-of-home, for us, is a great way to get people to look up, off their devices, and remind them of the conversation that's happening on Twitter. You can use less to say more."

In a blog post, Jenkins adds: "The election is playing out live on Twitter, where people can hear directly from the candidates, their supporters, the media and everyone in between. Because Twitter is open, it's the place for people to see and discuss the issues from every perspective. This campaign highlights the top issues being discussed on Twitter—it reflects different sides and doesn't take sides. As they always do on Twitter, people will bring their own point of view to the images that can be seen today around NYC." 

The billboards are going up in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. See much more of the creative below. 

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.